Ori HC | Of late, Cyber bullying activity has reared its ugly head and swept away so many innocent lives; India lacks specialized law to address Cyber bullying

“People from the past, have a tendency to walk back into present and run over the future.”

Orissa High Court: S.K. Panigrahi, J., while addressing a bail application observed that,

Tik Tok Mobile App which often demonstrates a degrading culture and encourage pornography besides causing pedophiles and explicit disturbing content, is required to be properly regulated so as to save the teens from its negative impact.

In the present petition and application has been filed under Section 439 of CrPC to seek bail. She is an accused for an offence under Sections 306 and 34 of Penal Code, 1860.

Background

Allegation against the accused/petitioner is that she along with the co- accused have inflicted direct and indirect mental torture on the deceased (Padmalochan Barik) which resulted in the commission of suicide by the deceased.

With the statements recorded it was revealed that petitioner was alleged to have been in a love relationship with the co-accused before she got married with the deceased.

Co-accused had forwarded some of the intimate Tik Tok videos with petitioner to the deceased and the same were alleged to have been streamed on social media as well.

The underpinnings of familial shame made deceased suffer a lot internally in the form of tremendous mental pressure which invited a dangerous haste in ending his life by hanging himself.

Abetment of Suicide

From the investigation it was clear that the co-accused was responsible for the abetment of suicide.

Petitioner’s Counsel L.N. Patel

It was submitted that petitioner had no role in the abetment of suicide of her husband and the same has not yet been established. Hence she may be granted bail.

Decision 

On perusal of the above, bench stated that it is a prima facie view that the incident might have been perceived to be just a streaming of Tik Tok videos of the deceased’s wife and her former beau but it was morally and legally heinous as the same led to an ugly consequence.

Petitioner being wife should have the deceased’s emotional safety, instead she became the cause of his emotional insecurity.

Offence of abetment to suicide under Section 306 of IPC is endowed with twin essential ingredients:(i)a person commits suicide (ii) such suicide was abetted by the accused. The offence involves a mental process of instigating a person of intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing.

In Court’s opinion, the Tik Tok videos had escaped the investigation officer’s attention.

Tik Tok Videos 

Bench stated that the above-mentioned Tik Tok videos became the cause for tragic end of an innocent life. Transmitting Tik Tok videos with offensive content to harass victims are on prowl and are gradually on the rise.

Of late, Cyber bullying activity like the instant case, has reared its ugly head and swept away so many innocent lives through many of its ugly manifestations.

With regard to Information Technology Act, what the Court said?

Information Technology Act, 2000 does impose an obligation upon such companies to take down content and exercise due diligence before uploading any content, but India lacks a specialized law to address the crime like cyber bullying.

In the present matter, Court stated that,

Further digging up, the instant case might bring some surprises, but at the moment the role of the co-accused seems to be quite apparent in terms of preparing the Tik Tok videos having some inappropriate content and sending the same to the deceased. This aspect of the taint cannot be properly established sans a befitting trial process.

Even a positive role of the petitioner in the entire episode cannot be ruled out, however, at the moment, invoking Section 306 would be preposterous. Hence, without more ado petitioner is granted bail. [Shibani Barik v. State of Odisha, 2020 SCC OnLine Ori 425, decided on 28-05-2020]

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